Business lobby leaders urge legislative restraint

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Business lobby leaders urge legislative restraint

Chairmen of the 71 chambers of Korea’s largest and most influential business organization with 140,000 members have called on the government and policy makers to refrain from labor and environmental legislation that might discourage corporate activities.

“Amid the delayed global economic recovery, investment, consumption and exports are in a slump,” said Sohn Kyung-sik, head of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), at a nationwide meeting yesterday in Gwangju. “I hope that a bill to extend the legal retirement age to 60 that was passed recently in the National Assembly, monthly wage lawsuits and introducing substitute holidays would not weaken corporate competitiveness and become a destabilizing factor in labor and management relations.”

Adopting a joint statement, the business lobby group raised concerns that massive monthly wage lawsuits could be filed by labor unions.

“It is urgent for the government and National Assembly to overhaul related laws,” the KCCI said.

The chamber opposes including regular bonuses and long-service allowances as part of workers’ monthly wages because companies would pay more for overtime and retirement.

The controversy began in March last year after a bus company lost a legal battle with its trade union. The Supreme Court ruled that regular bonuses or long-service allowances should be calculated as part of workers’ monthly wages. Since March 2012, lawsuits demanding the accounting change have been filed by unions at automakers, shipbuilders, airlines and other companies.

A KCCI survey showed nearly 80 percent of the 71 KCCI chamber heads agree including bonuses as part of monthly wages would greatly hamper investment and recruitment.

In regard to the government’s move to toughen penalties for pollution by chemical manufacturers, the KCCI leadership said the government should instead focus on increasing support for safety measures and replacing outdated facilities.

The Ministry of Environment said in April it would introduce a “three strike rule” for chemical companies. Under the rule, business licenses would be revoked after three incidents of chemical leakage within a certain period of time to be determined by the ministry after reviewing related statistics.

Korea has experienced a series of chemical-related accidents this year, including a leakage at Samsung Electronics’ chip plant in Suwon, Gyeonggi, in January that killed one worker and injured four.

The KCCI survey showed 70 percent of 71 of its leaders think the current economic situation is similar to the Asian financial crisis or worse, and 50 percent said the economic situation in the second half will not improve. They cited tightened labor regulations and economic democratization legislation as the two biggest drags on investment and job creation.


By Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]

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